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Ripon completes sweep of Knights
Wagner shines in first start from the mound
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Baseball standings

        league    overall
Escalon        9-0    16-0
Modesto Ch.    7-2    11-4
Ripon        5-4    5-8
Hughson    4-4    6-7
Riverbank    1-8    2-12-1
Ripon Ch.    0-8    2-12

RIPON — Kyle Wagner was supposed to pitch only when needed to this season.

Well, the Indians need him now.

After academic ineligibility ended the season of one of Ripon’s starting pitchers, Wagner stepped up to the rubber and shined under dreary conditions Thursday, tossing a complete-game shutout in a 5-0 Trans Valley League victory that completed a three-game sweep of rival host Ripon Christian.

“Kyle is our best player, and he’s putting the team on his shoulders right now,” Ripon coach Mark Whelan said. “We’ve been debating over whether or not we should start him today, but he showed a lot of confidence out there.”

Wagner struck out three and walked one while scattering six hits. He threw 101 pitches after logging an inning of work in Wednesday’s 15-8 win over the struggling Knights (0-8, 2-12).

Wagner showed signs of wear in the sixth, when RC loaded the bases with two outs and a 4-0 deficit. He got out of the jam by inducing a groundball to the shortstop. The Knights only had three runners in scoring position all game.

“Even though he got into some trouble there, I felt like he was in command the whole game,” Whelan said. “He had nice command of his breaking ball and he mixed in his fastball to keep hitters off balance. He did a terrific job.”

Sophomore Zach Evans gave Wagner all the run support he needed with a two-RBI single in the first inning, driving in Wagner doubled and Colby Gomes (walked).

Camden Dowhower sent in two more runs with a two-out single in the fourth, and he later plated the game’s final run in the seventh off Kory Parks’ hit.

Clayton Prins threw all seven innings for RC, and Aaron Faye was 2 for 3 from the plate.

Ripon heads to Stockton Saturday to take on San Joaquin Athletic Association powerhouse Lincoln. The Indians (5-4, 5-8) will then face Hilmar for a two-game, non-conference series next week over spring break.

Ripon Christian, meanwhile, will begin the Orestimba Easter Tournament Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

— Jonamar Jacinto